DIY Project : ULF 24x24 Camera


Senior Member
Jan 10, 2003
Another thread on my latest DIY project - an ultra large format (ULF) 24x24 inches camera. It is not perfect and probably never be. But I guess it has become workable ie I can shoot with it. ULF is defined as anything bigger than 8x10 inches. There are a few reasons where an ULF camera is preferred :

1. large negative size is suitable for making contact prints of the same size
2. no enlargement are required - less demanding requirement for the lens.
3. Can shoot smaller format using adapter boards
3. can shoot with wetplates, xray film , paper negatives. This can be done also with smaller large format cameras, but of course the overall result - given the much smaller size - is less impressive and satisfactory.

Of course, it comes with a price

1. very big, heavy and costly( which is why i built one instead of buying)
2. Need a lens with an image circle to cover the film size
3. Cumbersome manipulation, which slows down the photographic process
4. Everything else (negatives, tripods, holders, trays) are much bigger/bulkier.

After doing some research, I opted for a simple design that only has the front and back standard and no bed and focusing rails. This significantly decrease the build time as the focusing racks and bed are the most complicated to build.

I also opt for a equal size front and back standards which require a square bellows rather than a taper bellows again for the ease of construction.

This is how the camera look like when folded. You can also gauge its size.

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The lens
I managed to get an reproduction lens (process lens) off ebay. It is an Rodenstock Apo Ronar 760mmf14 lens and its covers the 24x24 inches area comfortably. It has no mechanical shutter but that is not a problem if I am shooting with paper or collodion as the exposure is usually quite long. I can then use a lens cap to control the exposure. It sits on a 9x9 inches lensboard.

The ground glass

The ground glass frame is built with plywood and the "ground glass" is just a piece of frosted acrylic. The Canon 600D is placed to show its relative size to the holder.

The film holder

The film holder has a hinged door to enable loading of the film.
This is also a challenging build as I have to ensure that it is light proof and capable of taking different medium (wet plate, paper and film). It is only capable of taking one piece of negative unlike the doublesheet 4x5 film holder. The dark slide is made of black acrylic and wood.

The bellows

Another big challenge. Find light proof and yet thin and light materials is tough. I 2 layers of black fabric with another layer of paper in between. The results is a set of heavy and sagging bellows. I will use it for now and try to build another using different materials in the near future.

Initially the intention is to use 2 big tripods to support a standard each. But due to the sagging bellows,I have to use a bench or table to support it for now. I will continue to work on this camera. :)

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seriously... i should pay you to help me make a 4x5... :sweatsm:

finally have the opportunity to use and film the camera in action. We were using a 16x20 Ilford paper to produce a paper negative for this session. Model & Video by Chuan


This is a good one. my wife dispose off my bellow for a 20 x 24 klimch camera, otherwise if can sit on a single track and hold by 2 tripod:)
you need a vacuum back and a vacuum pump to hold the film flat. linhof/sinar does have a mini pump. only the suction back is a problem.

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the Klimch camera is a reproduction camera? For now only use tape to tape down my paper negative. Hopefully someday I can shoot wet plate with this ULF cam

In the era of digital photography, I salute you for your work! My LF gear has not been touch for the last 5 years!! Nothing can compare to appreciating the image on ground glass.